Item of Interest: It’s a Small World After All for NICHD Researchers

Intramural Group Wins Microphotography Prize

Refer to caption.
Dorsal view of bones, scales, and lymphatic vessels in a juvenile zebrafish.
Credit: NICHD/ D. Castranova
View high-res version.

Daniel Castranova, an aquatic research specialist in the NICHD Section on Vertebrate Organogenesis, recently took the top prize in the 46th annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition for his photo of the dorsal view of bones, scales, and lymphatic vessels in a juvenile zebrafish. Also named on the prize are lab chief Brant Weinstein, Ph.D., and postbaccalaureate fellow Bakary Samasa.

The winning photo was taken using confocal microscopy and merges 350 individual images to reveal a top view of a zebrafish with a fluorescently “tagged” skeleton, scales, and lymphatic system.

In addition to its beauty and clarity, the image is significant because it was taken as part of an effort that led to a groundbreaking discovery: zebrafish have lymphatic vessels inside their skull. These vessels were previously thought to occur only in mammals, and their discovery in fish could expedite and revolutionize research related to treatments for diseases that occur in the human brain, including cancer and Alzheimer’s.

The Nikon Small World 2020 competition received thousands of entries from around the world. The judging panel included a photo editor from National Geographic and a cell and developmental biology expert from Vanderbilt University, among others.

Mr. Castranova also received an Honorable Mention for his First 22 Hours of Zebrafish Development submission external link in the 2020 Nikon Small World in Motion Competition, which features movies and digital time-lapse photography taken by microscope. Another one of his photos—of a zebrafish eye external link—was named an Image of Distinction in the in the 2019 photo competition.

Visit external link to view the Castranova image and other prize-winning photos. Learn more about this year’s contest winners at external link.

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